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B.C. burning restrictions remain, smoke could make COVID-19 cases worse

(via B.C. Wildfire Service)

Open burning restrictions are being continued for all high smoke sensitivity zones in British Columbia.

In effect, that means all major populated areas of the province.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and provincial public health partners issued the continuation today (April 14), which will be in effect until June 15.

The restrictions do not apply to campfires, although local officials in the Okanagan have also advised against those, as smoke and air pollution can increase susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by decreasing immune function.

"As cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in B.C. continue to increase, the BC Centre for Disease Control recommends implementing measures that help reduce excess air pollution in populated airsheds," the ministry says. 

Deterioration in air quality may lead to more COVID-19 infections, more severe cases, and add further demand on the health-care system.

"While the focus should remain on physical distancing from others to prevent the spread of infection and reduce the number of cases, keeping our air as clean as possible will also help to protect the population during this difficult period. These restrictions will be evaluated daily; the areas in which they apply may grow or diminish accordingly," the ministry adds.

- with files from Jon Manchester, Castanet

(via Contributed)